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For the science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein, see "Life-Line".
For the action-adventure video game, see "Lifeline (video game)".

A lifeline is a line or rope used to support a person who is in physical difficulty, such as a person who is at risk of drowning. The term may now be used to refer to several different things which draw from this original meaning to some extent.

Lifeline (counselling service)

Lifeline is the name of a free, 24 hour telephone counselling service established in 1963 in Sydney, Australia by the late Reverend Dr Sir Alan Walker of the Methodist Central Mission. Several other organisations following the same principles and standards were subsequently formed in other countries.

In Australia, Lifeline provides telephone counselling to members of the public via a network of Lifeline Centres maintained by trained volunteers. As at February 2005, there were 42 Lifeline Centres providing services from almost 60 locations, with about 5000 staff handling calls and another 5000 volunteers involved with fundraising and administration.

At Lifeline there is a belief that everyone has the right to be heard and understood with compassion, and that every person has the right to competent care in times of need. On any day, at any time, for anyone, Lifeline volunteer telephone counsellors are waiting for calls on the 24 hour telephone counselling service 13 11 14.

For the year July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005, Lifeline received over half a million telephone calls. In the same period volunteer telephone counsellors listened for more than 500,000 hours. This equates to more than 50 years of non-stop compassion.

Lifeline is part of an international network, and through its affiliation with LifeLine International, has centres in nineteen countries. Lifeline is also a member of the Volunteer Emotional Support Helplines (VESH), a partnership between Befrienders Worldwide, International Federation of Telephone Emergency Services (IFOTES) and LifeLine International. This network of volunteer counsellors provides services in 61 countries.

History and development

Rev Walker was inspired to establish Lifeline after realizing that he alone did not have the time or resources to provide sufficient attention and help to the increasing number of people facing difficulties and personal crises who were contacting him for assistance.

Following two years of planning and preparation, a nine month training course for 150 people, the renovation of a century old building owned by the Methodist Central Mission in downtown Sydney, and the listing of the Lifeline telephone number on the emergency page of the telephone directory, the first call to the service was received on March 16, 1963.

Shortly after the service opened, it was featured in an article in TIME magazine, which led to the establishment of similar services around the world. The first international convention of Lifeline was held in Sydney in August 1966 to guide the development of Lifeline services and to establish quality standards, which led to the formation of Lifeline International.

Although all Lifeline Centre adopt the same standards, different names are used in different countries. For example, in Canada the service is called Telecare; in Japan , Inochi no Denwa (meaning "life phone"); and in the United States of America, Contact. There are currently about 14 Lifeline member organisations around the world.

In 1999, Lifeline International and similar organisations such as Befrienders International and International Federation of Telephonic Emergency Services (IFOTES) signed a memorandum of understanding and pledged to work together to provide an effective telephone crisis counseling service throughout the world.

Other uses

Community alarm units

In the United Kingdom, Lifeline refers to community alarm units, manufactured by Tunstall Group Ltd, which when linked with telecare sensors provide vulnerable people with a means of contacting help via a network of monitoring centres throughout the UK.

Freeplay Foundation (radios in Africa)

The Freeplay Foundation, a non-profit humanitarian organisation based in Africa, provides targeted access to information and education through the distribution of free Lifeline Radios [1].


Lifeline is also the name of a short regular BBC Sunday afternoon appeal programme that asks viewers to help the unaided and reports on the work of various charities in and around the UK.

Various presenters have included Cliff Michelmore and Nick Ross.

Game shows

In the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, a lifeline can be used by a contestant who is having trouble answering a question. A lifeline allows the contestant to phone a friend, ask the audience, or eliminate two of the four answer choices.

Lifeline Systems

Lifeline also refers to the name of a private, subscription-based medical alert service provided in the US by Philips Lifeline (a division of Royal Philips Electronics, which purchased Lifeline Systems, Inc. in 2006). Lifeline Systems was founded in 1974 by Dr. Andrew Dibner. Subscribers such as senior citizens and medical patients wear medical alert devices on the wrist or around the neck, which when activated in the event of an emergency, automatically dial an emergency telephone number for assistance.

LifeLine Ambulance Service

Found in 2006 by Brian Connor (President), Brian O'Connor (Vice President), Michael McPherson (Director of Financial and HR), and John Kulis (Operations Management). This ambulance service resides in Woburn, Massachusetts providing Chair Car, Limo, ALS and BLS emergent and non-emergent service to various hospitals and nursing facilities in the metro Boston area. First call was completed in September 2006 and is continuing to grow at a rapid rate making this company one of the fast growing ambulance services in Eastern MA. [2]

See also

  • Life Alert

External links